A Nightmare on Elm Street ('10)
Going back a few years, the studio Platinum Dunes started developing a track record of classic horror title reboots. Starting with 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre' in 2003, they would follow it with 'The Amityville Horror', a 'Texas Chainsaw' sequel, 'Friday the 13th' and this. None of the above were nearly as successful as the original films they were based on, but at the time, I was pretty damn psyched to see a reimagining of Freddy Krueger in a new 'Elm Street' movie.
This film had the potential to be scarier, use CG to its advantage, make the nightmares really stand out, and to this day, I still think the casting of Jackie Earle Hayley was a great decision - it's just what he had to work with that was the problem. By this time, I was a full-fledged Fred-Head, finding a deep interest in the films, and in 2009, unveiling my first attempt at "Freddy's Boiler Room" on the original Take 5 Reviews site (which I shut down in 2012 for personal reasons). So when it cam to this movie's 2010 release, I was good to go. Everyone involved was fairly new on the scene, and Jackie Earle Hayley was someone I thought would be good for Freddy, that is, if they really had to replace Robert Englund.
The Plot here involves a group of kids, headed by Nancy Holbrook and Quentin Smith (Rooney Mara and Kyle Gallner, respectively). Together, they seem to be experiencing unexplained nightmares, all involving the same burnt-faced, bladed glove-bearing character. They are collectively afraid to fall asleep, knowing that something is after them, and further witnessing the reality of these manipulative nightmares first-hand. Instead of running from it, however, Nancy and Quentin take it upon themselves to do the research on the "man of their dreams" only to find out that one Freddy Krueger (Hayley) is much more involved with their past than they could ever remember.
Upon my first viewing of it, I was rather bitter (as most Freddy fans were). The thing is (spoiler alert) they delve into that original idea of Freddy being sexually abusive to these children as well as killing them. Due to a happy accident that made them turn away from the idea in the original film, the violation of someone's dreams proved to be enough of a violation. This time around, they stick to that being his lifestyle and as far as the killing goes, they seem to steer away from that idea. In other words, the angry mob in this version torches him not for killing their kids, but for putting them through something potentially worse. I've always found this to be a mistake, as his ability to enter and manipulate one's dreams is representative to violation, and a physical act really doesn't need to be a part of it.
On top of that, they try to make Freddy sympathetic for a short time, which also doesn't work. In my head, Freddy should be pure evil. I wouldn't suggest that Freddy is the villain you would route for, unlike Jason. Freddy did terrible things before he became a monster, but Jason and Michael were more "misunderstood" characters, especially Jason. Freddy is a villain you enjoy the ride with, but you're routing for the kids to win those battles, especially in the case of 'Dream Warriors'. In this, you route for basically no one since no one is at all interesting. In trying to make the film so dark, they missed what made these 'Elm Street' movies good, completely.
I am speaking for myself here, but I think the real problem with this movie was that it did try to be more serious and more dark. As a result, these characters don't have a lot of personality, and they really miss an opportunity here to bring back a Dream Warriors-like scenario. On top of that, they didn't even come close to utilizing CG very well at all. The big CG shot is Freddy bulging through the wall in a nod to the original film. However, it looked a hell of a lot better in the original film and instead of doing it cheaply and having it look atmospheric, they go all out here, and it looks corny. To this day, I still want to see an Elm Street movie that really uses CG to its advantage. We're talking nightmares here. I say bring back things like the Freddy snake from 'Dream Warriors', have fun with it. In fairness, perhaps it was a it costly to do so, but I still say the CG is completely wasted on that wall bit.
Other problems lie in the film's overall blandness when you feel something like 'Nightmare on Elm Street' should kind of pop a little bit. These are great actors, especially Mara and Hayley, and they weren't used to their greatest advantage here. On top of that, there were certain ideas this movie had that were good and certain ideas that countered anything good with something unnecessary. For example, I really like the idea here of sleep depravity causing micro naps, and therefore sleep felt even more unavoidable this time around. But then they get into the history behind Freddy and Nancy when it was never such a way in the past, it wasn't broken, and it didn't need fixing. It was like another Platinum Dunes production, 'Ninja Turtles', making the turtles once belong to April O'Neil. But that's a whole other 80's franchise.
In closing, despite this film's flopping, I still think there's heavy potential to resurrect Freddy and reform the 'Elm Street' universe - it just really needs to fall into the right hands. Right now, it's interesting to see what's happening with the 'Halloween' franchise, so things aren't beyond hope at all. Things just need to be done right, and I could see it one of two ways. On one hand, they could tie Freddy into the whole sleep paralysis concept that has been unveiled to the world in recent years. They could combine such a concept with the inspiration Wes Craven originally had from those real-life news articles. On the other hand, go the opposite direction and simply make it a fun, fourth wall-breaking comedy ride, taking the seriousness right out of it. Either way, there is tons of potential - the real question is, however, which non Robert Englund actor will put on the glove?
Rebooted Body Count: 5
Rebooted Total: 5
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